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Plovdiv, Bulgaria
 
May 13

It took us some time, walking and asking directions, to find the relatively new Hotel Dafi. People did not recognize the name and when we reached the hotel we understood why; there was no large name on the building but only the written letter "D" atop a large glass rounded corner and the word "Hotel" near the bottom.

The welcome was hospitable and the room spacious, clean and well appointed with internet access which was working.

After settling in we headed up to Old Town with its cobbled streets and old buildings, many of which are undergoing restoration thanks to EU help.

We stopped in at the Ethnographical Museum housed in a 22 room 1847 wooden mansion which bows in the centre and whose roof waves across the front. The artefacts range from tools to traditional dress and costumes (no photos allowed) but it is the building which held our interest the most. We continued uphill until we reached the top of one of Plovís six hills.

There used to be seven hills but one was consumed for building material. From this vantage point we could look out from Old Town to the new high-rises seamed with boulevards of green trees.

One teenaged boy was among those auditioning and we were impressed with his natural ease.

We came across another photo shoot. This time the photographer was taking pictures of children who were lined up awaiting their turn before the camera. They had three, sometimes five, poses to make an impression as parents anxiously looked on. We supposed "a break" would give the child, and perhaps the family, a life beyond current expectations.

As grandparents we looked on and were a little saddened by the grown-up poses these young children were mimicking.

No sooner did we leave them and turn a corner that we bumped into another shoot. This time a lone twenties-something female model, a lighting assistant and the photographer. The ad may have been for fashion or perhaps sunglasses.

We stopped into an outside bar with tables and director-style chairs among the trees. The prices were good, our waitress was friendly, could speak fairly good English and we just wanted to linger in the shade and relax. We ordered two mohijtos. Expecting something like what Terry had drank on Santorini, we were a little surprised when it arrived in a long stemmed shallow glass usually reserved for drinks like pink ladies.

We sipped and were further stunned. It tasted like lemon juice watered down the tiniest amount. There was no indication of rum and it had never seen the green of mint.

Sherrie tried pouring some water into the glass thinking it would make it more of a lemonade but that didnít help and we left without finishing.

Further along the cobblestoned street we spotted a lady in white with large wings high amongst the trees. Yes, another shoot was taking place. Heading back downhill out of Old Town Sherrie had an opportunity to get in the picture herself when Terry snapped a photo of her with a bronze character holding up a bronze frame.

We had a gyro from a recommended outlet for dinner, but it didnít live up to the ones on Crete. To compensate we decided to have a gelato for dessert. We ordered the first cone and were surprised at the large scoop. Of course the scoop was large because, as we discovered, it is sold by weight, not scoops.

May 14

Breakfast at the hotel was very nice and the ladies who served us most pleasant. The hotel manager even came in to be sure we were satisfied. We went walking to see some of "newer" Plovdiv. We first walked along a local pedestrian street lined with trees, then made our way to the main pedestrian street lined with more expensive shops and few trees where Sherrie dropped in to share some news with "The Gossiper" ... another bronze statue (do you think she may have a "thing" for bronzed guys?).

The walking was most pleasant and took us through parks to statues, around outside art shows and people working.

We walked for some time before settling at a table in a square with a fountain.  We had a beer and did some people watching. Young people chasing pigeons or eating ice cream, one conducting a water fountain as the stream of water went higher and lower, a gentleman nibbling on popcorn, gypsies begging, people on cell phones, walking babies, taking photographs and a lady with flowers reacting to a kiss on the hand.

 

We were both looking forward to dinner ... it was as close as our hotel.

 Terry picked up a bottle of water from a corner store across the street from The Dafi and dropped it off in our room before we headed downstairs to the salad cafť.

Without a doubt the best salads we have had in some time ... chock full of vegetables with a tasty dressing and at a most reasonable price (less than $2 Cdn each). We recommend it highly and wish we had recognized this treasure the night before.

 

May 15

With some reluctance we checked out of The Hotel Dafi. The hospitality was second only to what we had experienced at the Venus Hotel in Turkey, but it took first place (in the three star category) for room size, comfort, cleanliness and amenities (however we do wish that European and Turkish hotels would discover the fitted bottom sheet and separate [from duvet covers] top sheets). The discovery of the salad shop almost made it worthy of staying another day.

 

Much of the day was spent on the train between Plovdiv and Veliko Tarnovo.

   

    

 
 
 
click here to continue May 15 and Veliko Tarnovo ...

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